Veninga Lecture on Religion & Society

Jim Veninga, former UW-Marathon County dean, religious studies professor and a founding father of WIPPS, created this annual lecture series to help engage people on religion and its relationship to society.

Veninga’s vision was to bring nationally acclaimed experts in the field to address topics that often are emotionally charged. Although he died in January 2014, his vision lives on through all of WIPPS programs, but most especially through his namesake religion and society lecture series. His hope was that people “learn from some great scholars who have thought deeply and written widely about the connections between religion and society, at home and abroad. “I am hoping that the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service will pull from the presentations key ideas and help circulate those ideas to citizens across the state.”

A Sampling of Veninga Talks

  • In 2013, Veninga Lecture speaker Martin Marty, one of the foremost public scholars of American religion in the world, discussed, “When Faiths Collide: What Happens to the Common Good?”
  • A 2014 Veninga Lecture on “The Five Media Pillars of Islam,” by Munir Jiwa, a leading scholar of anthropology, focused on how today’s media – television, movies, books and journalism – portray Muslim people, and how that depiction differs from reality for millions of Islamic faithful.
  • In 2016, Veninga Lecture speaker, Bishop Richard E. Pates, said, “The dialogue we need is not about whether to act on climate change, but how to act.” His talk focuses on the causes of climate change – chiefly accountable to human behavior – and what it will take for people to become involved citizens in helping the earth.
  • In 2017, Thomas C. Berg, professor of law and public policy at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, discussed the importance of religious liberty for all at the Veninga Lecture Series on Religion and Society. He said “Many Americans tend to emphasize liberty and equality of, for example, Muslims or same-sex couples. Many others tend to emphasize it for conservative Christians. There seems little overlap between those two groups.” View the full flyer here. Learn more about the event here. Watch the lecture here.